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Mol Biol Evol. 2010 Feb;27(2):235-48. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msp226. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

A genome-sequence survey for Ascogregarina taiwanensis supports evolutionary affiliation but metabolic diversity between a Gregarine and Cryptosporidium.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medical College, USA.


We have performed a whole-genome-sequence survey for the gregarine, Ascogregarina taiwanensis and herein describe both features unique to this early diverging apicomplexan and properties that unite it with Cryptosporidium, the Coccidia, and the Apicomplexa. Phylogenetic trees inferred from a concatenated protein sequence comprised of 10,750 amino acid positions, as well as the large subunit rRNA genes, robustly support phylogenetic affinity of Ascogregarina with Cryptosporidium at the base of the apicomplexan clade. Unlike Cryptosporidium, Ascogregarina possesses numerous mitochondrion-associated pathways and proteins, including enzymes within the Krebs cycle and a cytochrome-based respiratory chain. Ascogregarina further differs in the capacity for de novo synthesis of pyrimidines and amino acids. Ascogregarina shares with Cryptosporidium a Type I fatty acid synthase and likely a polyketide synthase. Cryptosporidium and Ascogregarina possess a large repertoire of multidomain surface proteins that align it with Toxoplasma and are proposed to be involved in coccidian-like functions. Four families of retrotransposable elements were identified, and thus, retroelements are present in Ascogregarina and Eimeria but not in other apicomplexans that have been analyzed. The sum observations suggest that Ascogregarina and Cryptosporidium share numerous molecular similarities, not only including coccidian-like features to the exclusion of Haemosporidia and Piroplasmida but also differ from each other significantly in their metabolic capacity.

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